How to Learn Accounting without an Accounting Background?

When it comes to business concepts of sales, purchases, and overhead, the first thing that comes to mind is accounting.  Accounting aids in making informed and strategic decisions that help in businesses grow in the right direction and at the right time.

As a subject, Accounting may be considered quite tough to grasp as it requires meticulous financial recordings and tedious ledger management, coupled with complex concepts that need intensive practice. While this is true to some extent, learning accounting is not impossible as it is based upon basic math skills. With our comprehensive and easy-to-learn accounting guide, you can get started and manage your business details and finances or get your dream job.

 

Capitalize on E-Learning Programs and Online Courses

In this digitally advanced age, everything has evolved. Now ordering food is just a click away, entertainment modes have become immensely diverse, and even education has shifted to online mediums. So, why not avail the opportunity and get started with any of the e-learning programs offered by numerous well-known schools, universities and colleges.

Learning online is more convenient than the conventional college-going experience. The world is now a global village with no boundaries, and any prospective learner from any educational background can enroll in their desired e-learning courses. These online programs are well developed as per modern market needs, ranging from basics to advanced levels. Therefore, take advantage of the opportunity and build your skills by learning from famous institutions like The University of Michigan, Udemy, Coursera, MIT, and many more that too free of cost!

For accounting, the options are simple with courses like the following to consider:

Choose a Suitable Learning Method

Several learning options like online learning, YouTube videos, e-learning diploma programs, and onsite learning are available. But, every prospect has its pros and cons. One must pick the most suitable medium as per our requirements. So, before selecting any accounting learning programs, one needs to consider the following factors:

  • When it comes to learning supplementary skills like accounting, computer basics, language, or any soft skills, budget is one of the significant factors that impact the preferences of aspiring students. E-learning programs are very cheap, and most of the time, fundamental courses are less costly. So, select your desired lessons as per your learning requirements and budget.
  • Analyze and decide beforehand the key gains that you desire from your accounting course and keep track of your learning and professional outcomes even during as well as after the completion of your online course
  • Management is the most substantial aspect of after-college learning or supplementary education. So, organize your calendar accordingly to avoid any inconvenience.
  • Knowing your optimal learning style and habits is also crucial. Some people are good kinesthetic learners, while some are auditory or visual learners. So, select courses as per your learning styles to connect with like-minded peers. This approach will amplify your learning capacity manifold!

Follow the learning method compatible with your coveted outcomes, budget, learning style, and schedule.

 

Devote Time to Learning

Irrespective of the learning methodology you choose, devote ample time to it. Accounting concepts construct gradually, so investing enough time in deep learning each topic is crucial to building a conceptual foundation.  Avoid rushing while learning basics as a strong foundation needs clear concepts. Keep practicing accounting problems daily as that will enable you to progress toward your desired educational goal.

 

Concentrate on Real-World Application

Keep in mind that learning accounting equations and principles does not require memorization. Accounting is the game of practice, so always apply your understanding to real-world problems. For instance, online accounting courses incorporate a case-based teaching methodology that provides the students with an opportunity to take on real business problems and real-world challenges.

Furthermore, attempt to recreate scenarios that you might have experienced during the course of your career. Applying concepts and equations to subjective experiences can help learners connect with real-world problems and practical solutions. It is also significant to understand accounting is not something one can understand overnight; it needs time and repeated practice.

 

Do Network with Accounting Professionals

When we connect with the peers and professionals from our relevant field, it gives us more analytical and practical insights about the subject. Such communities not only help hone our accounting skills but also provide motivation and support. These accounting networks are supportive platforms for newbies as they have also experienced similar challenges in the past and are open to helping others through their accounting journey. Along with professional growth, accounting networks also develop a community spirit and sense of belonging amongst online learners.

 

Wrapping Up

Whenever we learn a new skill, the most notable aspect is to take control of that learning. Before taking on something that is not quite compatible with our educational background, degree, and experiences, we need to put aside the inevitable fear and be prepared to move outside our comfort zone.

Learning the fundamentals of accounting will not only help you diversify your skillset, boost your confidence and performance in organizations but will also assist you in making more intelligent decisions. Therefore, whether you want to supervise your finances or are interested in pursuing a book-keeping or an accountant job in your dream organization, learning and practicing the basics of accounting can help get you started.

Now, consider the perfect solution for you to excel in your accounting career and get paid what you are worth.

Author Bio: 
Maliha Safiullah is a Former Correspondent for 60 Minutes, Channel Nine Australia and is a published writer having worked as a Feature Writer for Dawn News, Pakistan.

Why is Bookkeeping Important?

The absence of bookkeeping in a business is like a road without signs because you’re likely to arrive at a different place than intended. Any large business learned the value of financial records produced by bookkeepers is crucial for proper management.

Bookkeeping is essential to every business for both financial and legal reasons. Without record keeping, it is difficult to get a business loan, and impossible to do taxes. Even more importantly, without the information that bookkeeping provides, wise decision-making is tricky and can lead to disastrous conditions.

There is a close correlation of success with those that realized the importance of bookkeeping and those that did not. Those that thought bookkeeping was an unnecessary luxury judged the success of their business by the amount of money in their bank account. Their thinking was “If I have money, I must be doing well.” That assumption, all too often, caused them to always be in the “fire-fighting” mode of management. Unfortunately, a lack of a bookkeeping system would end disastrously for the owner, with mortgages on their home, and bill-collectors hassling them. It even led to bankruptcy too many times.

Certainly, bookkeeping does not guarantee success. Nor is it all that is needed. Yet it leads us to information that can help us make well-informed decisions. Allen Bostrom, in his book “In the Black”, states “You hear a lot about the importance of making decisions based on data. What I have learned is that decisions should be based on wisdom, not necessarily data alone.” He goes on by describing the Wisdom Pyramid which is a triangular shape with “Data” at the bottom and topped by “Wisdom”. In other words, data leads to information, information leads to knowledge, and knowledge leads to wisdom.

In summary, the difference between achieving entrepreneurial dreams and disaster for a small business owner is often based on their appreciation or lack of appreciation for the information coming from a bookkeeping system.

10 Reasons to Start a Solo Bookkeeping & Tax Business

Are you thinking about starting a tax services or solo bookkeeping business of your own? The time is right for entrepreneurs with these kinds of skills. Here are some of the reasons an accounting-related startup makes sense.

Clients Are Plentiful
No matter what niche of the wide field of accountancy you choose to specialize in, you will not be at a loss for customers. In every kind of economy, people who can keep accurate financial records, prepare individual or commercial taxes, or offer an eclectic menu of services are in high demand. The trick is deciding where your skills lie and what you enjoy doing. This is where solo bookkeeping comes in.

You Can Earn a Degree While Working
When you run a one-person solo bookkeeping enterprise, you make your own schedule. That means it’s much easier to earn a college degree even while working full-time. Many solo bookkeeping and tax practitioners use weekends and evenings for taking online or in-person courses, and pay all the expenses with a student loan from a private lender. Tuition and fees can add up, even if you’re just needing to add an extra year of credits to sit for the CPA exam. Private lenders offer competitive rates and their online applications easy to fill out.

Business is Year-Round
Because many individuals file their returns in April every year, there’s a misconception that the entire field of accounting is highly seasonal. Nothing could be more inaccurate. For example, among entrepreneurs, most filing is a quarterly affair. Many other in-demand services are enjoying year-round demand, like bookkeeping, tax planning, preparation of financial reports, loan applications, and countless more. Even the personal taxation season is much longer than it used to be in the days when the majority of citizens waited until the last minute to transmit their returns. In the digital age, when online filing is simple and quick, and when most working adults receive W-2s electronically, the busy season for preparers now runs for nearly four full months.

You Can Specialize in Tax Resolution
For better or worse, there are thousands of individuals and businesses that are facing huge bills from the IRS. Sometimes, their best hope is to get an OIC (offer in compromise) or one of several other settlements that prevents payment of the entire amount owed. This niche of the taxation services sector is highly specialized but also quite lucrative for practitioners who want to hone in on a narrow field of operation. And because there’s never a shortage who owe large sums in back taxes and penalties, accountants who do resolution work rarely have difficulty keeping their schedules full.

Adding EA and CPA Credentials Will Expand Your Clientele
If your business card carries an EA (enrolled agent) or CPA (certified public accountant) designation, clients will notice. Even though the EA designation is newer and not well-known to individuals, the letters are familiar in the world of small businesses. Having both credentials prove to prospective clients that you are adept in the wide field of accounting but have special expertise in preparing tax returns such as a Professional Tax Preparer (PTP) and/or Professional Bookkeeper (PB).

Most Entrepreneurs Avoid Taxes and Bookkeeping
Except for the occasional startup or small business owner who majored in accounting, few entrepreneurs want anything to do with filing tax returns, keeping books, or installing purpose-designed software for the job. Like legal, payroll, and security functions, most small business owners prefer to hire someone else to take care of their monthly books, maintain tax records, and handle core accounting functions. That’s one of the central reasons that accounting service providers of all kinds have done well as solo operators and small partnerships for more than a century. It’s just a fact of human nature that people who are good at sales, management, and entrepreneurship don’t want to be bothered with number crunching.

You Have Full Control
As an owner, you make all the key decisions about what kind of clients to seek out, how many hours to work, what combination of tax, bookkeeping, and other services you wish to provide. If you choose to take on a partner, that too is your decision, as is the choice of office location, what software programs to use, and what functions to outsource. Solo owners have 100 percent control of the operation, which is one of the most attractive aspects of working alone for the vast majority of people who choose to do so. As a solopreneur (a solo bookkeeper), you dictate who to work for and when, and what to charge.

Long-Term Industry Prospects Are Excellent
Unlike many other entrepreneurial business sectors, taxation-related services will be in high demand for many years to come. No matter which political party is in power, the constant tax law changes, amendments, and enhancements mean that the entire body of the legislative code is not static. Individuals and small business owners need professional guidance and are willing to pay for the best advice possible.

You Can Outsource Tax Season Overload
One challenge many new owners face is the deluge of work that appears from early January through mid-April. How best to handle tax season if you run a one-person shop and manage perfectly well the rest of the year? Often, the most effective approach is to hire as many temp workers as needed. Or, you can simply outsource your overload to a local firm that accepts batch jobs during the busiest months of the year. The main thing is to be prepared for several weeks of intense work and identify temps or outsource assistance before the filing wave hits.

Office Expenses Are Minimal
If this is your first foray into solopreneurship, it’s important to know that you can handle a sizeable number of clients from a bare-bones office setup. It’s fully up to you whether that means renting a small office or operating from home. In fact, for many one-person-shop bookkeepers and tax specialists, rent isn’t even close to being the primary expense. Expect to spend more, especially during the first year, on software, new computers and peripherals, and advertising. Of course, if working alone is not something you enjoy, or if you see an advantage in teaming up with a partner, consider other options besides going it alone. But, of all the business professions, accounting is perhaps the one that most readily lends itself to a solitary pursuit of profits.

Don’t wait, get started now on your journey.

Is a Tax Preparation Service Right for Me?

For some budding entrepreneurs, starting a tax preparation service is ideal – for others, not so much.  To determine if it is the right thing for you, let’s consider the pros and cons of your own tax preparation service and you can be the judge.

There are several good reasons to start your own tax preparation service:

1)      It can be done easily from your home.  All you need is a table to spread documents out on, a computer with tax preparation software, and a printer.  Everything can be done from the comfort of your own home. As you’ll soon find out, if you don’t know already, you may be able to deduct part of the cost of your home.

2)      Most tax returns are simple and can be completed in less than an hour by an experienced preparer.  The average charge for a single return is $150 to $450 depending on the complexity of the return.

3)      There is always a demand for tax professionals.   It is estimated that 155 million returns were filed, and 60% were prepared by one of 1.2 million professional preparers.  That calculates to an average of 80 returns per tax professional.

4)      The first clients will likely be from among your friends and family.  Many people appreciate and expect more personal attention from someone they know.  Advertising may start with an email to those you care about.  In future years, word-of-mouth advertising seems to take over allowing your practice to grow annually.

5)      The busy season will be January through April.  For most people, that’s the winter months when not much is going on.  In fact, many professional preparers earn enough during the busy season to take the rest of the year off.

6)      Each year the earnings will increase.  As the preparer becomes more proficient, it takes less time to generate a return thereby earning more income per hour when charging on a return, not an hourly basis.

Of course, it’s not all roses.  There are some things you should also consider:

1)      Tax preparation software is pricey.  The minimum cost is over $1,500 per year, with some brands nearing $3,000.  Although all professional software will get you to the same place for most returns, the higher-priced software will do the more complex and difficult business returns and often are more intuitive to use.

2)      Plan on long hours during the busy season.  As you build your practice, you will want to make “hay while the sun shines.”  Don’t plan any vacations until after Tax Day.

3)      Continuing tax education will be imperative.  The tax law changes each year and sometimes the changes can be complicated.  Several organizations, including the IRS, hold annual conferences to keep preparers up to date.

4)      A PTIN and local business license will cost money and may be restrictive.  A Professional Tax Identification Number runs under $40, and a local business license may cost from $50 to hundreds of dollars.

An income tax practice can be a great source of income for an entrepreneur that wants to work out of the home.

If this is the next step for your career, consider being in business for yourself but not by yourself with Universal Accounting Center as a certified Professional Tax Preparer.

Do I Qualify to Start an Income Tax Preparation Service?

The IRS is not restrictive in who may start an income tax preparation service, other than they require a person to get a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). To get your PTIN, go to the IRS.gov website, and it will direct you to the online application. It costs under $40 and takes about 15 minutes to complete the application to start a tax preparation service and receive the number. Generally, those having a felony conviction for tax fraud and other forms of financial crimes are not eligible.

A few states such as California have additional qualifications. If you want to prepare taxes in these states, you may have to take a test and register with the state licensing department. If you want to determine if your State is one of these, call the state department over licensing, or check it out online. They can tell you of any special requirements for tax preparation services.

Most municipalities require you to have a business license. This fee could range from $50 to hundreds of dollars. To research what it will cost you, search on “business license cost for (your city)”. In most cases, you can also complete the application online.

Contrary to a common misconception, a person need not have an accounting degree or be a CPA to prepare taxes. In fact, no specific education is necessary although it is a good idea to understand the basic definitions in the tax law before you hang out your shingle.

Though the income tax software does the hard work, a tax preparer should understand how to determine income tax status, who qualifies as a dependent, the process for calculating itemized deductions, and how to read the tax tables. With this simple knowledge and the help of software, a person can prepare more than half the returns they may be asked to prepare.

Nonetheless, the more income tax knowledge a person has, the more confident they will feel and the more returns they will be able to complete. Furthermore, the more complex a return, the higher fees, and the more income per hour a person will generate. For instance, a simple return may only generate a $75 fee. Yet, a more sophisticated return could earn hundreds of dollars and take less than one additional hour to complete.

The upfront investment, though not a qualifier, is among the lowest of any new startup. Other than the PTIN and business license fees mentioned above, the tax preparer needs a computer, printer, and tax preparation software. TurboTax and H&R Block, to name a couple, are not good software for the tax preparation business. With these individual packages, you will be limited in the number of returns, and your ability to complete all returns.

Instead, you will want a more robust package designed for professional tax preparers such as Intuit ProSeries, TaxWise, and Drake costing well over $1,500. These software packages are designed to be efficient, accurate, and for unlimited number and sophistication of returns. Take time to make the right choice, because you will likely want to use the same software for at least five years.

In summary, most people with basic knowledge of tax law and the help of a software package can thrive in a tax preparation business.

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